Monday, April 11, 2011

Daily Report: Tampa PhilFest 2011

Today, I went with Mom and Paul (and puppy Gracie) to the annual Philippine Cultural Foundation PhilFest celebration of Pinoy culture.

The welcome committee with infor-
mation and various brochures.

There was a constant stream of dance
groups performing the traditional
dances of The Philippines on the
main stage.
The pavillion is fairly large, with a central plaza and stage reminiscent of a barangay hall. The ladies doing the greeting at the front gate were very friendly, although I did have to laugh when, upon mentioning I was from CDO, asked me if I knew the former ambassador to the United States who lived there, her cousin. I had to explain that I circulated in slightly humbler circles.

Mom, Paul, and I stopped first and ordered some pork adobo, then sat down at a table and chatted with some of the people we met. Puppy Gracie was a big hit with her inherent cuteness. Mom and Paul enjoyed the adobo. I enjoyed the chats.

After that, we did some more wandering, at some ube ice cream, and had some lumpia.

There were lots of people wearing
wonderful outfits of the various
parts of The Philippines.
People were very friendly. Every 3 or 4 minutes, I fell into another conversation with somebody who was more than willing to talk at length about the local Filipino community, life in America, and any other subject I asked about.

The Pinoy community in Tampa is exceedingly large. Everything a Filipino expatriate could want can be found here. There are of course, the community groups and events, but also a Filipino grocery, several Filipino restaurants, and even a Filipino catering service and shipping company.

This pretty traditional house had
been built on the grounds.
We wandered around to all the various booths. There were many social groups (especially regional groups, like people from Bikol, people from Bohol, people from Cebu) there who had also food stands set up serving several local dishes that I had not heard of.

There also were several vendors of goods that people from The Philippines would find useful. The Dish Network was there to let everybody know that they carried more Pinoy television than any other American television system. There were also several church groups.

There were purveyors of barongs, crafts, jewelry, Filipino movies and music and magazines, and even a nice collection of fresh vegetables more commonly found in a market in Jasaan than the local Publix.

There were also loads of T-shirts (although finding a T-shirt without Manny Pacquiao on it was slightly more difficult) and baseball caps and bandanas.

Mom and Paul sat down for a while while I wandered a bit more around the place. I chatted with the folks from Bohol. I stopped and had some shaved ice with fruit punch. I chatted with some of the pinoy-kano couples I met as well.

It was a pretty hot day though, and the sun was beating down. After having worked our way through the pavilion, mom, Paul, Gracie and I wandered over to the Bayanihan Arts and Events Center, a beautiful building with a large auditorium just south of the main compound.

Getting into the air conditioning and sitting down for a break was a welcome respite.

Many things to see inside.
Inside the Bayanihan Arts and Events Center, the Filipino consulate had set up shop and was providing consular services to the local expatriate community, including passport renewal, dual citizenship services, and various other citizen assistance.

A fellow named Jason Lee from Illinois had set up a display of his 5 years as a missionary in The Philippines. It was a very nice setup that he had, and he had been invited all the way down to Tampa to give a "Kano's View" of what living in The Philippines is like.

He had spent a lot of his time in Bukidnon, and his wife, Joy, was a member of the Bukidnon hill tribe. I also met a nice girl from Cagayan De Oro, who now lives in Illinois.

On the other side of the conference hall, somebody had set up a beautiful collection of traditional dresses as well as a rather comprehensive history of The Philippines. Costumes of several of the smaller populations of the Philippines — the various hill tribes — were on display as well.

Overall, it was a great day. It was fantastic to get to know the Filipino community, and find out how broad and deep the Philippines runs in the Tampa Bay area.

The festival runs every year, as well as other Filipino community events at Easter, Christmas. There are no shortage of things to do as an expatriate Filipino in Western Florida. I'm really looking forward to Epril arriving and us living here as part of the greater community.

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